Christmas and New Year’s came and went like a slow and
lacking significance or liveliness or spirit or zest
“I’m sorry, but I don’t understand how a person can say they hate nature. It’s like saying you hate happiness or laughter. Or fun. I don’t get how someone could be so freaking
look angry or sullen as if to signal disapproval
“So what?” I
glower at her. I can’t believe she’s embarrassing me in front of this idiot. I feel the burritos hardening into cement in my stomach.
complete and without restriction
When I get to the bottom, I kick the sand out of
sheer frustration, and thanks to a gust of wind, some of it flies right into my eyes.
be in an agitated emotional state
I try to read, but I’m distracted because I’m still
seething about my fight with Lorena.
fall suddenly; collapse
I also keep worrying that if Amá goes into her room and goes through her boxes, she’s going to find her underwear and
a reproduction of a written record
All I can come up with so far is: 1) Go to Olga’s work; 2) Get her
transcripts from community college; or 3) Swallow my pride and ask Juanga to get me Jazmyn’s phone number from Maribel.
question or examine thoroughly and closely
The few times I asked her she said business blah-blah, and since that is something I know absolutely nothing about and have no interest in, I never
probed any further.
deficient in originality or creativity
The building is so dreary and
sterile that it almost looks like a prison.
deeply agitated especially from emotion
I have to emphasize how Olga is dead and how
distraught I am.
power of making choices unconstrained by external agencies
“We are not allowed to release any records until one year after the student’s death. At that time, the college will use its own
discretion in deciding whether, and under what conditions, a student’s information will be released to survivors or third parties.”
repeat after memorization
The woman sounds like a machine
instrument of execution used for beheading people
The quinceañera hangs over me like the blade of a
extremely repulsive or unpleasant
I’ve been to many quinceañeras, and they’re all the same—gross dresses, bland food, and
marked by or showing unaffected simplicity
Even though Amá doesn’t understand me at all, I know she’s not doing it to make me miserable. I’m not that
naive. I know she feels guilty for not giving Olga a party because we were too broke at the time, but why should I have to suffer because of it?
I don’t know who would want such a
the act of judging a person or situation or event
I don’t even know how he can make that sort of
assessment with my jacket and scarf.
Halfway down the block, an old man comes out of his house. I stop in front of him, not knowing what to say, the words all coiled inside my mouth. What can this
frail viejito do to help me?
lean and wrinkled by shrinkage as from age or illness
His sunken eyes look worried, and I have a sudden urge to press myself against his
withered, little body and bury my face in his shoulder.
twisted, especially as in pain or struggle
I thought he was a creature covered in matted fur, his face grotesque and
contorted, with giant fangs and bloody eyes.
serve as a means for expressing something
Everything about Maribel
conveys confidence and independence, like she’s constantly giving the world the finger.
highly offensive; arousing aversion or disgust
I don’t think there is a person on this planet who would want to make those
open land with peaty soil covered with heather and moss
With these majestic violins, you’d think we were in some castle on the English
moor instead of a dingy church basement in Chicago.
thickly covered with ingrained dirt or soot
With these majestic violins, you’d think we were in some castle on the English moor instead of a
dingy church basement in Chicago.
be driven or carried along, as by the air
I can smell the beer
wafting from his clothes and skin.
something hideous or frightful
“Oh my God, that dress is a
monstrosity, but you still look beautiful,” he says.
kill in large numbers
I wonder if Amá is going to cry, hit me, or both, because she looks like I
a formal written statement of relinquishment
Some of the schools charge up to ninety dollars, and since I’m what they like to call “low income,” Mr. Ingman is teaching me how to apply for
expel from a country
“My parents told us we weren’t supposed to tell anyone. What if I send in my application, and then the school calls immigration and my parents get
deported? Then what?”
condemn or openly brand as disgraceful
"It’s a very
stigmatizing word. I don’t like it. Same with illegal aliens. That’s even more repugnant.”
offensive to the mind
"It’s a very stigmatizing word. I don’t like it. Same with illegal aliens. That’s even more
try to manage without help
My parents could have been sent back to Mexico at any moment, leaving me and Olga here to
fend for ourselves.
away from the right path or direction
“Fair enough. But I wouldn’t lead you
astray. I really want you to go to school.”
a large and scholarly book
If—when—I become rich, I want a library so big that I’ll need a ladder to reach all my books. I want first editions, too. I want ancient
tomes that I have to handle with forceps and rubber gloves.
a trite or obvious remark
I hate the
cliché that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, because covers say so much about what’s inside.
ordinary writing as distinguished from verse
I mean, how do you decide? I love so many.... The Awakening? One Hundred Years of Solitude? The Great Gatsby? Catcher in the Rye? The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter? The Bluest Eye? Poetry or
yellowing of the skin from an accumulation of bile pigment
“Have you ever read ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’? Ever hear of yellow fever?
Jaundice? Yellow can be bad news, is all I’m saying.”
a fabric with a colorful swirled pattern of curved shapes
paisley is detestable and should be banned until the end of time. Same goes for pastel-colored clothing. Oh, and khakis are repugnant.”
offensive to the mind
“I think paisley is
detestable and should be banned until the end of time. Same goes for pastel-colored clothing. Oh, and khakis are repugnant.”
resembling a dream
The moment seems almost
surreal. I picture myself watching us from another table. I’ve never been in a coffee shop like this, and no one ever wants to get to know me.
draw back, as with fear or pain
“My sister died last year.” I don’t mean to say that. It just comes out.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry.” He takes my hand, and I almost
influence or persuade by gentle and persistent urging
As always, she’s suspicious, but I’m able to convince her after some
coaxing and whining.
a draped dress worn primarily by Hindu women
I’m in awe of all the beautiful and bright
saris glittering in the store windows.
creating an appearance of importance or distinction
I curtsy and give him my hand like some
pretentious aristocrat, which makes him laugh.
a member of the nobility
I curtsy and give him my hand like some pretentious
aristocrat, which makes him laugh.